There are times when you wonder if you can’t get too much of a good thing; today was such a day. On the agenda: the gardens of the Prieuré d’Orsan, lunch at Loye-sur-Arnon followed by the gardens of Drulon as part of our Loire Valley Gardens tour.
It is easy to be generous in the praise of Orsan, quite difficult to put into words how close it comes to the most sublime perfection of the gardeners’ art; by the end of our visit we were lost for words and almost in tears. You have to go there for the spiritual experience: a garden of such high quality and in perfect harmony with the ancient priory buildings with which it shares a delightful patch of verdant Berry countryside. The gardens are divided into a number of “rooms” by artfully trained Hornbeam hedges, many with windows allowing views of neighbouring garden rooms. Ornamental planting is understated, calming, clever, but subservient to the herbs, fruit and vegetables which are the point of the garden, reflecting its medieval roots.
Appropriately, lunch was of high quality and featured well prepared and nicely presented local produce, giving us time to recover from the mornings visit before moving on to the next. Drulon is the creation of artists, a Dutch / Belgium couple, and art is to be found throughout the gardens and in many of the old stone buildings. The plantsman in me was delighted by this garden, so different from the first but full of interesting plants and planting combinations. As a project it is still in development, but there is more than enough close to the house to keep visitors enthralled for several hours.